Why are rats visiting my free rat buffet?

I like tagging along with the pest control guys when they do the exterior rat treatments. Bugs I don’t find that interesting, but rat control really is. I’m increasingly not a fan of poison and much more a fan of taking away their food sources and entry points. It’s more effective AND better environmentally.

Today I was letting the pest guy into a locked garage and one of the building unit owners came out and we chatted. He showed me their neighbor who had rats get into his Porsche SUV and cause all sorts of damage to the engine. He showed me the rat poison boxes in the backyard, and the kennel for the feral cat from the city.

And then we looked at the guy’s curbside compost bin with the lid half off, and his trash bin, which was so overfilled it couldn’t close.

Rats like food. Do you know why they eat the poison we leave out? Because they think it’s food. If you leave ACTUAL food out, they will eat that instead, and then they will snack on the delicious plastic in your SUV engine for dessert.

I’m sure the feral cat will do wonders for the population of songbirds in the alley, though, congrats on that.

You suck, Comcast

If you are in DC and online, you are likely paying a premium for the privilege.

The most recent figures from the WhiteFence Index, a monthly survey of utilities and home services in major cities, >reveals that DC residents pay the highest rate in the country when it comes to high speed internet.

Why is this? Could it be because Comcast had a monopoly over most of the city for years, with RCN covering a small portion, and Verizon Fios only coming to town after years of waiting and, more importantly, after Verizon has made it clear that it doesn’t much like providing Fios and could stop doing it at any time?

Indian Cooking Classes in DC

I just backed a cool project on Kickstarter – Pansaari. The project is close to being funded, but is running out of time. It sounds pretty great.

A communal space offering food that is good for you. Sip chai, browse books, take a cooking class, buy spices, local produce, and more.

I’m especially interested in the cooking classes. As you may know, we’re mostly vegetarian here (though The Wife eats seafood and I eat pretty much anything, just not at home), and there are a ton of good vegetarian options in Indian cooking. Plus some spicy stuff. I’m on a big spicy kick these days.

Anyway, I hope they reach their goal.

Contesting a DC parking ticket online

Oh, what a glorious world we live in. I just contested a ridiculous parking ticket entirely online. I’m not sure how I got the ticket – I never actually saw a ticket on the car. I just got an email telling me that the fine was about to double. So I responded.

I never received the paper ticket – my first notification of this ticket was the email that the penalty was doubling. However, I did not commit the violation “STOP/STND IN AM RUSH”. Attached please find photos of the signs on both sides of the street. The ticket was issued on 3/29/2011, which you’ll note is a Tuesday. According to the signs, there are absolutely no rush hour restrictions on parking on the 1400 block of Harvard St NW on Tuesdays. So it is not possible that this ticket is valid.

I attached two pictures. North side parkingSouth side parking
I don’t know how I got the ticket. But I don’t think I’m paying it. I’ll let you know if the DMV agrees.

Welcome to the world, Matilda


At exactly 7:56AM Friday (9/24) morning, Matilda Sheehy Renaut was born at the DC Developing Families Center in Northeast.

I know I haven’t done much posting to this blog recently. Or, really, any. But I’ve been busy with other projects, and the now two kids, and all of that. I’d like to get back to blogging at some point, so I’m keeping this alive, but I make no promises.

Anyway, Matilda. Another great experience at the birth center. The wife’s labor was incredibly quick – first contraction was only about five hours before the baby was born.

I’m still getting used to the fact that I have two little girls. Matilda looks JUST like Adelina did at this age except for her chin. Adelina’s was a little more like mine. We’re curious if they’ll end up looking the same as they get older. My little brother and I could have been twins up to age one or so, and now look very different.

It’s very convenient to have another girl at the same time of year – she’ll be the same size as her sister in the same year/season, so we should be set for hand-me-down clothes.

I’m taking more time off work this time. I took all of last week and all of this week. I’ll go back after the Columbus Day holiday next Monday. It’s been cool to spend time with the family, and now we should be a little more settled in to the change before I have to go back to work and leave the wife alone at home.

And, in case you’re wondering, it’s still crazy, being a dad. And both of my girls are amazing.

Only in DC

Originally uploaded by thetejon

Saw this on our block of Harvard today. Fancy BMW 745, polished, heavy tint on the windows, Maryland tags, parked in front of a RPP Zone 1 Only sign. The sign, if you don’t click through to read, says, “POLICE – Official business”. I have no idea if this is a legitimate thing, or something the guy printed on his computer, but clearly parking enforcement decided to ticket him and let the DMV sort it out.

You wish you had my energy?

I was out jogging with the kid in the stroller on 16th Street near Varnum NW – near the top of a pretty long, steady ascent – and I overtook a group of kids coming from school. A kid who looked 13 or 14, though I have no idea these days, looked at me. “I wish I had your energy, sir.” He said. “Pushing that baby all the way up the hill”.

Comcast still doesn’t have a clue

Fresh on the heels of my great experience with Verizon Wireless, Comcast provided a fantastic display of how bad they are at what they do. This is what happens when you have a localized monopoly. We’re supposed to get Verizon FIOS in three years, which is probably four plus years after we should have gotten it. I don’t know what sort of negotiations had to happen between DC and Verizon, but anything beyond, “Yes, Verizon, here’s your building permit” was probably not in the best interests of the DC residents. But that’s not the point here. The point here is that Comcast is terrible. Let’s look past the fact that they have to come out every 6-8 months and fix something because our signal strength has dropped to the point that our cable goes out. Never mind that they just keep inching the price up. No, my big complaint is the huckster who called me up this afternoon. He just caught me before I left to pick up the little gremlin from daycare. He starts off by telling me that Comcast has a great deal for me, only $10 more a month or something for Comcast Blast internet, which is super fast and awesome, and they’ll give me free Showtime, and boy are there some great shows coming out on Showtime, and if I sign up right now I can get some other fabulous prize, we can get you all upgraded within two business days, so can we set up an appointment right now? He didn’t take a breath or deviate from the script. By the halfway point, he could have offered me a couple of terabytes per second download speed for six cents a year and I would have turned him down. So, what did he do wrong that Verizon did right? He talked at me. I know, Verizon was lowering my bill, which is obviously much easier to sell, but that’s not really the point. The Comcast guy talked quickly, making sure he got everything out and asked me to sign up before I really had a chance to think about what his offer was. He didn’t really explain what the difference between what I have now and what he was offering. The Verizon guy actually had a conversation with me, clearly explaining what he was doing, how it would be different from what I had now (And he was looking at my account, so he knew what I was paying for), and why it would be better. When I told the Comcast guy I wasn’t interested, he tried to convince me. He asked why not. I stumbled for a minute, wanting to say, “Because you’re reading a script, and I hate being upsold”, but I didn’t really feel like getting into it. The Verizon guy knew my account, and knew how he could get me a better deal. The Comcast guy knew nothing about me beyond my name, and made me an offer that wasn’t terribly compelling. I hope Comcast is terrified of the arrival of Verizon FIOS. And I hope they deal with it by improving their service rather than lame attempts at upselling their customers. And Comcast? If you’re still reading and responding to unhappy blog posts about your service, make sure you read my post this time.

Contesting a parking ticket – my car is diplomatic

I got a parking ticket the other day. Around the corner from us on 15th Street is the back of the Mexican Embassy. There is some parking there reserved from 7-4 weekdays for “Diplomatic cars”. We came home after 4, couldn’t find parking, and so we parked there. I meant to move the car, but I forgot. I am, of course, contesting the ticket.

To whom it may concern: I am writing to contest a parking ticket, citation #[unimportant], which I received on August 7th, 2009, for “DISOBYNG OFFICL SIGN”. The sign reads, “Diplomatic cars only” between 7AM and 4PM. Princeton’s online WordNet defines diplomacy as “subtly skillful handling of a situation” (http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=diplomacy). It then follows that a diplomatic car would be one which displays or performs this skillful handling. As such, it is difficult to argue that my car, a 2006 Mazda 3, is not diplomatic. There are only two situations in which the car ever finds itself – parked or being driven. It takes no skill to remain parked, and therefore the definition easily applies to any car. And anyone who has ever driven a 2006 Mazda 3, especially the manual transmission, can attest that the car is very skillful. It handles very well, accelerates quickly, and gets good gas mileage. At no time does the parking sign mention the need for any sort of credentials identifying the car as diplomatic, nor does it require the owner of the car to possess credentials. Therefore, by the definition above, my car is in fact diplomatic, and not in violation of the parking restrictions. Thank you very much for your time. Me

The sign is vague. Who’s to say what “diplomatic” means? Unfortunately, in this case, it’s the soul-less, humor-less parking adjudicator who will decide. I can’t say I like my chances . . .